The Pittsburgh Steelers now have rookie undrafted quarterback Devlin Hodges as their starter but that might not have been the case had the team been able to sign back one of their former players after starter Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season in Week 2 due to an elbow injury.
According to an interview in the Tampa Bay Times, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck is quoted as saying that the Steelers wanted to sign quarterback Landry Jones back to the team after losing Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2. However, Luck essentially went on to say that being as Jones had already signed a contract with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL that the league wasn’t going to relinquish the rights so that he could sign with an NFL team.
“Once a player signs a contract — once he passes his physical and signs a contract — then he’s under contract with us,” Luck reportedly said, according to Thomas Bassinger. “We won’t release that player to the NFL until after our season. We need certainty. We can’t just have guys peeling off.”
Luck went on to confirm that the Steelers had interest in signing Jones after Roethlisberger suffered his elbow injury in Week 2.
“This happened to Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger got hurt, and Landry had backed up Ben for years. First phone call was, “Can Landry come to the Steelers?” “Nope, sorry. He’s ours. We signed him,” Luck is quoted as saying.
According to Luck, the Steelers also attempted to sign quarterback Phillip Walker ahead of the team’s Week 5 game against the Baltimore Ravens because they were looking for a player to emulate quarterback Lamar Jackson in the practice for a week. Walker, however, had already signed with the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL and thus the Steelers were denied. The Steelers ultimately signed free agent quarterback Taryn Christion their practice squad that week to emulate Jackson.
The Steelers went into the 2019 regular season with quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs as their backups behind Roethlisberger. They then traded Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of their Week 2 game.
After Roethlisberger suffered his season-ending elbow injury in the team’s Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Steelers signed Hodges back to their practice squad and ultimately to the team’s 53-man roster just prior to their Week 3 game. They also signed free agent quarterback Paxton Lynch to their practice squad that same week.
So, would Jones have been the Steelers backup quarterback to Rudolph in Week 3 had the XFL allowed him to sign back with the Steelers in Week 3? It sure sounds like that may have been the plan. Even if that had happened, it’s probably likely that Hodges would have still landed back on the Steelers practice squad.
That’s quite a set of hypotheticals to think about right now when you consider all that has transpired this season with the Steelers at the quarterback position. In short, Steelers fans can probably thank the XFL for Duck Mania now running rampant in Pittsburgh. Had the XFL let Jones out of his contract to go back to the Steelers, it’s hard to envision Jones Mania happening right now even if knew how to call ducks.
If what Luck said is indeed true, I bet Jones now wishes that he wouldn’t have signed with the XFL. Had he not, he’d likely be preparing this week to start against the Buffalo Bills. Oh, I also bet Dobbs is wondering how things would have transpired for him as well had the Steelers not traded him to the Jaguars after Week 1. Let’s face it, Hodges was destined to be the Steelers starting quarterback at some point this season.